“Thanks for everything” – community’s gratitude as stalwart steps back from running Swinnow Community Centre

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Yvonne Allman and Jean Evans.

A community stalwart who has run Swinnow Community Centre for eight years has announced she is to stand down next month.

Tributes to the selfless work of Yvonne Allman have flooded in following her decision to step away from running the lifeline community centre, which is used by hundreds of people for a raft of community activities and services every week.

Yvonne will be handing the keys to Leeds City Council next month, which means the centre is currently earmarked for closure from 21 March 2024. WLD understands there has already been expressions of interest from a couple of local community groups about taking on the running of the council-owned building.

Posting on Facebook yesterday, Yvonne wrote: “It’s been my privilege and pleasure to run the centre over eight years and now feel the time is right for me to step down.

“We would like to thank everyone for the support and hope you all enjoyed the events etc. I would like to say a massive thank You to all my lovely volunteers for the fantastic help throughout the years Love you all and I’m going to miss each and every one.”

Yvonne had helped countless people over the years, from connecting people to food parcels and financial support services through to running events and activities for young and old. A number of local groups and support services currently run from the centre.

One centre user posted on Facebook: “You will be missed Yvonne, you brought that centre to life and helped so many people along the way. You truly are one of the most selfless people I know.”

“You’ve put so many hours in as a volunteer and have given so much of yourself to helping others without reward or recognition,” added another. “You’re the glue that held it all together. Thank you for everything you’ve done, all the activities you’ve organised, all the help and support you’ve given people individually and for being a beacon in the community for so long. Enjoy your rest – you’ve earned it.”

Another added: “Yvonne this is so sad! Your centre has been a lifeline for so many people over the years and I’m so sorry yet another service is having to go. Thanks to you and your volunteers for the cuppas and somewhere warm to go. Take care all of you.”

“This is such sad news for the community. You do so much for everyone,” said another. “You will be missed by so many people. However, you must put yourself, your health and your family first.”

And another said: “Oh Yvonne Allman you’ve done such phenomenal things, such heroic things, such NEEDED work – with little to no financial support and the tiniest amount of resource. You are utterly amazing. ThankYOU for all you’ve done, much of it unseen. I’m so sorry to hear this, but  hope you are incredibly proud of yourself (and if not, me and many others ARE).”

Cllr Dawn Seary (Cons, Pudsey) paid her tributes. She told WLD: “Yvonne has helped so many people of the years. The stories have been emerging on social media about how she has touched so many lives we hadn’t realised. She has been going above and beyond to support the community, especially during the Covid pandemic

“Yvonne is an amazing individual and I wish her well.”

Cllr Seary added ‘a number of’ groups had contacted local councillors to express an interest in taking on the building. “There is an appetite there, but it’s not for councillors to decide who should take it on. We will, of course, advocate to keep the centre open. It is the heart of the community and certainly won’t be closed without a fight!”

Cllr Trish Smith (Cons, Pudsey) added: “Yvonne has been an absolute stalwart for the Swinnow community and we all owe her a huge debt of gratitude. She has quite simply been the beating heart of the centre for so long. I’d like to personally thank Yvonne for everything she’s done over many years and wish her well for the future. Hopefully her health will improve and she can enjoy more time for herself and her family.

“It’s my ambition to get the centre reopened so it can continue to fulfil a vital role helping residents of Swinnow and the wider community once again. I’ve been approached by several people who have shown interest in running the centre for the community. I’m already speaking with senior members of the council to make this happen.”

In a statement, Riaz Ahmed, Labour’s council candidate for Pudsey, said: “The closure of Swinnow Community Centre is devastating for our community at a time when Conservative cuts and chaos have driven so many families and vulnerable individuals into poverty.

“We would all like to thank Yvonne for her years of service and for signposting people to places where they can still receive help locally. 

“Labour will continue to work with local community groups to help support Pudsey’s most vulnerable people, in addition to working towards a future where no-one need rely on food banks and other volunteer-run organisations to make ends meet. I have approached Leeds City Council to ensure that this vital asset to the community is not lost.“ 

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